[Note to the reader: In 2010 I wrote much of what I’ve put into this particular post below, with the rather odd exception of my having failed to include “validation” as one of those “feelings” I was so often encountering as a family court mediator (and, most recently, as an early neutral evaluator). However, over the years it has most often been validation which I have allowed to elude me, and which has created a significant hurdle in helping the parties reach a successful resolution of their litigation. And so I thought it might be timely to revisit this particular subject, just to see if (and how) I had allowed my family court mediation practice to morph into its most current form. Let me quickly add that for the many of us who have attended “mediation school” while becoming a certified family court mediator, our instructors use the word and the term, “validation”, within the first 2 hours of an intensive 40-hour course. So let’s just start there.]
“Validation” is defined as “the recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile”. And …
“Mediation is the art of recovery.” (From “Family Court Mediation Training Program”)
Having practiced family law for over 44 years, I am well now into my 9th year as a fulltime family court mediator and an early neutral evaluator, and I have determined that, on many levels, alternative dispute resolution (either as a mediator or an early neutral evaluator) has presented me with my greatest professional challenge…and here’s why:
I retired from the South Carolina family court bench at the end of December, 2008, and in January, 2009, I “transitioned” into my mediation practice, convinced that I had enough experience in this area immediately to become a natural-born mediator. I just knew I could settle every case by sheer force of will and experience. Wrong…and big mistake.